In Conversation With Chris McClean On The Lost Weekend
Hailing from the colder Northern territories of the UK, chasing waves in those kinds of environments come as second nature to Chris. From shooting one of our first films in the Outer Hebrides through to our critically-acclaimed film Edges Of Sanity and most recently The Lost Weekend, Chris has been capturing iconic moments in our history since 2013.
We caught up with him in between projects to talk about the making of The Lost Weekend.
How do you come up with creative direction for projects like The Lost Weekend?
We wanted to create something a bit more obtainable than what had been done previously with Finisterre: we were still going after cold waves but we weren't focusing on shooting stormy weather, epic crashing waves or the tents we were used to, instead it was a trip that anyone could go on. The idea was to film it over a weekend and keep it natural.
Ireland’s west coast is visually really stimulating – on top of some of the ambassadors living out there, was that aesthetic a reason to shoot out there?
Seeing as Ireland is where most of the ambassadors are, we were eager to capture that vibe and environment. We never expected the weather to be so beautiful; the light was great and that changed the tone of the film quite a lot. It also meant we didn't quite get the waves we wanted, but that’s the same on any surf trip so I guess that brings a sense of reality.
When you went to Ireland on the trip did you have a narrative that you had in mind? Or is it something that usually comes once you've done all your editing?
That actually does develop after; you know it can quite often change after the film has been made. That Alan Watts narration that you hear at the beginning is something that came to us half way through the edit. We were looking for a bit of inspiration to tie it all together. I mean, to start with there was a very loose storyboard, so we knew what kind of clips or filming on the trip we wanted to do and it would revolve around two or three main surf sessions, but as with any trip like that it changes as you’re travelling and filming.
You've shot some iconic footage with us on trips - what's been your most memorable shoot?
Probably my first one which was to the Outer Hebrides. It was a different atmosphere with the crew to more recent shoots because it was all so new. We didn't know what we were going to be getting or how it was going to work, so it felt quite natural. It was very rustic, very raw, and it felt like we had less pressure. Two of us nearly got hypothermia and we were waking up in the morning thinking why didn't someone get up and put the fire on in the middle of the night… but the location was so stunning, so cold - there was just something about that trip.
You have to travel a lot, often alone to remote locations, in order to get the shots that you need. You need a certain character to have that as your lifestyle - is that something you had always envisioned doing or is it something you've grown to do?
It’s not something I was ever really scared of. I have friends who would never travel on their own and I think you're missing out on a massive opportunity to connect with other people that way. When you're on your own you're much more open to random encounters and it leaves your trip a lot more open to the chance of meeting new people and finding new experiences. Even if it’s just someone inviting you to dinner, for a drink or showing you different waves. I think it’s kind of better to travel on your own in a lot of ways; it’s when the most exciting opportunities open up.
Is there anyone who has had a direct influence on you and your career or who inspired has you or still inspires you today to keep doing what you're doing?
It’s kind of a hard one… when I’m in the middle of a project I try not to look at film stuff as it kind of indirectly influences you however hard you try for it not to do so. But I listen to music all the time at home and there are certain albums I’ll put on if I’m struggling to think. So musically I think I’m a lot more influenced or inspired by than any other kind of thing, and probably more than anybody it’s Tom Waits… his stuff takes me to a different world and I find it quite inspiring. But obviously there are filmmakers who are amazing and produce brilliant work, like Jonathan Glazer. Whenever you see his work pop up its always beautiful.